Wednesday, May 30, 2018

New and old UK reviews of the 1929 Louise Brooks film Pandora's Box - now showing across the UK

The British Film Institute (BFI) is giving Pandora’s Box (1929) a theatrical re-release in England. That's a big deal for any classic film, let alone a silent film. Notably, but not surprisingly to the many fans of Louise Brooks, this old film is generating a lot of new buzz....

Pamela Hutchinson wrote a must-read piece on the BFI website titled "How the Lulu bob became cinema’s most imitated haircut." And Peter Bradshaw wrote a piece in the Guardian newspaper, "Pandora's Box review – intensely erotic silent-era classic," which called the film a "Weimar danse macabre."  Meanwhile, Mark Kermode, one of England's best known film critics, had this to say.


Pandora’s Box, directed by G.W. Pabst, will open at the BFI Southbank and select cinemas UK-wide starting June 1. Among the cities where the film will be shown are London, Leicester, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dublin, and Belfast. Click through to the linked pages to see a schedule of screenings.

Today, Pandora’s Box is considered a masterpiece of the silent era and a landmark work in the history of world cinema. Its reputation is due largely to the riveting, red hot performance given by its star, Louise Brooks, in the role of Lulu. It wasn't always so.

In fact, the film received poor to middling reviews when it premiered in Berlin in February, 1929 -- as it did when it debuted in New York City in December, 1929. It also received somewhat tepid reviews when it was first shown in London in 1930, despite the fact that one of England leading film journals, Close-Up, had built-up expectations around the film. In April, 1929 the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer ran this bit.



Despite Close-Up's enthusiasm, the English trade journal, Kinematograph Weekly, expressed a certain critical reserve, stating that the picture "can hardly be expected to appeal to the average audience."


In April, 1930, when the film was shown in London, the Guardian critic noted how badly it was cut. Later, when the film was shown in August, 1930 at the Gaiety theater, Tottenham Court-road, the London Observer similarly commented, calling the censored film a "piece of work nervous and intelligent in conception, and photographically emotional, but presented, at least to the British public, in a chaotic form which reduces it from an entertainment to a study."


(I believe the critic "C.A. L." is Caroline Alice (C. A.) Lejeune. She appreciated Pabst's work, and in her 1931 book, Cinema, she noted " . . . no director on two continents has found so much personality in Louise Brooks.") References to Pandora's Box continued to surface in British publications in the 1930s, largely in reference to G.W. Pabst. The film was not forgotten, but also not that well regarded. The years passed.... Though the film was still in shambles, it was revived in London in 1957.


It would take decades for film historians and preservationists to restore it to its more-or-less original form. The many screenings taking place in England in June give contemporary viewers the chance to see the film as close to its original state as we may ever get.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BFI presents Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box in UK

The British Film Institute (BFI) is giving Pandora’s Box (1929) a theatrical re-release in June. The version that will be shown is a 2K DCP of the 1997 Munich Film Museum restoration.

Pandora’s Box, which was directed by G.W. Pabst and stars the one-and-only Louise Brooks as Lulu, will open at BFI Southbank and “selected cinemas UK-wide” on June 1. Among the cities where the film will be shown are London, Leicester, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dublin, and Belfast. The DCP comes with a score by Peer Raben, who has worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

June

From 1 June
BFI Southbank
Barbican
Filmhouse Edinburgh
QFT Belfast
7 June
Stoke Film Theatre
From 8 June
IFI Dublin
Phoenix, Leicester
Belmont, Aberdeen
From 15 June
Glasgow Film Theatre
From 16 June
Mareel Shetlands Arts
From 23 June
Hippodrome Bo’ness
24 June
Palace Cinema Broadstairs
30 June
Penarth Pier Pavillion

July

From 1 July
Triskel Arts Cork
8 July
Rich Mix, London
From 15 July
Cine Lumiere
From 17 July
Artrix Bromsgrove

August

4 August
The Poly, Falmouth, Cornwall
5 August
Regent Street Cinema, London


Pandora’s Box is considered a classic, a masterpiece of the silent era and a landmark work in the history of world cinema. Its reputation is due largely to the riveting, red hot performance given by its star, Louise Brooks, in the role of Lulu.

Few can match Brooks’ intensity and erotic allure. Pauline Kael called her Lulu “The archetype of the voracious destructive women.” Brooks is that, and more. In fact, she’s stunning—and those who see the film for the first time often say they can’t take their eyes off the actress.

In his acclaimed 1989 biography of Brooks, Barry Paris wrote: “A case can be made that Pandora’s Box was the last of the silent films—not literally, but aesthetically. On the threshold of its premature death, the medium in Pandora achieved near perfection in form and content.”

If you want to learn more about Pandora's Box, be sure and check out the recently released book by Pamela Hutchinson. Pictured below, it is highly recommended by the Louise Brooks Society.

Pamela Hutchinson's Pandora's Box (BFI Film Classics) is available on amazon (UK and USA).  It is, no doubt, also available at better bookstores including the bookshop at BFI Southbank.

It’s that “near perfection in form and content”—dark and riveting, that draws audiences time and again. Here is the newly prepared BFI trailer for the film.


Pandora’s Box is also, as the trailer states (quoting yours truly in the Huffington Post), "one of the great masterpieces of the silent era."

Monday, May 28, 2018

Louise Brooks stars in Pandora's Box in Belfast June 1 - 7

Iconic silent film star Louise Brooks adorns the cover of QFT's June program. That's because Brooks' best known film, Pandora's Box, will be shown at the Queen's Film Theater for a week starting June 1. More information about this special event can be found HERE.

From the QFT:  "One of the greatest silent films, G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box is renowned for its sensational storyline, sparkling Weimar-period setting and the legendary lead performance of its iconic star Louise Brooks.

Following the rise and fall of Lulu (Louise Brooks), a spirited but innocent showgirl, whose sheer sexual magnetism wreaks havoc on the lives of men and women alike, Pandora’s Box was controversial – it features one of the first screen appearances of a lesbian character – and unsuccessful in its day, and then underappreciated for decades. It was only after recognition of Louise Brooks began to grow from the late 1950s, when she was championed by admirers like Henri Langlois, co-founder of the Cinémathèque Francaise, that the film was looked at anew. It now stands as an incredibly modern movie, and few stars of any era dazzle as brightly as Louise Brooks. Her beautiful features, trademark sharply cut, shiny black bobbed hair and extraordinarily charismatic onscreen presence, turned a silent movie actress into a timeless icon of both cinema and style.

Previously only shown on the big screen in the UK on 35mm, with cinemas having to hire a pianist or musicians to perform a live score, this new digital version features an orchestral score by the German composer Peer Raben, known for his work with Rainer Werner Fassbinder."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand starts tomorrow.

The 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand starts tomorrow, and runs May 24 through May 31 at the Scala and Lido Theaters. Here is some further information. (How thrilling it is to see silent film appreciated all around the world. This Festival has screened a Louise Brooks films in the past.)








กำหนดการเทศกาลภาพยนตร์เงียบ ประเทศไทย ครั้งที่ 5
The 5th Silent Film Festival in Thailand’s Schedule

*Accompanied by บรรเลงดนตรีประกอบโดย Maud Nelissen
** Accompanied by บรรเลงดนตรีประกอบโดย Richard Siedhoff

โรงภาพยนตร์สกาลา / Scala Theater
Thursday 24 May
19.30 The Passion of Joan of Arc (France / 1928 / 81 min)*

โรงภาพยนตร์ลิโด / Lido Theater
Friday 25 May
18.30 Dutch Types (France / 1915 / 4 min)*
The Secret of Delft (Netherlands / 1917 / 70 min)*

20.00 Journey into the Night (Germany / 1921 / 81 min)**

Saturday 26 May
12.00 45 Minutes from Hollywood (USA / 1926 / 22 min)**
Sherlock JR. (USA / 1924 / 45 min)**

14.30 The House on Trubnaya (Soviet Union / 1928 / 64 min)*

17.00 สนทนากับนักดนตรีประกอบหนังเงียบ Talk with Musicians

19.00 The Devious Path (Germany / 1928 / 107 min)**

Sunday 27 May
12.00 Foolish Wives (USA / 1922 / 101 min)*

14.30 Dutch Types (France / 1915 / 4 min) *
The Secret of Delft (Netherlands / 1917 / 70 min)*

17.00 The Grey Automobile (Mexico / 1919 / 223 min)**

Monday 28 May
18.30 The Goddess (China / 1934 / 85 min)*

20.00 The Devious Path (Germany / 1928 / 107 min)**

Tuesday 29 May
18.30 The House on Trubnaya (Soviet Union / 1928 / 64 min)*

20.00 Journey into the Night (Germany / 1921 / 81 min)**

Wednesday 30 May
18.30 The Passion of Joan of Arc (France / 1928 / 81 min)**

20.00 The Goddess (China / 1934 / 85 min)*

Thursday 31 May
18.30 Foolish Wives (USA / 1922 / 101 min)*

20.30 45 Minutes from Hollywood (USA / 1926 / 22 min)**
Sherlock JR. (USA / 1924 / 45 min)**

ภาพยนตร์ทุกเรื่องมีคำบรรยายภาษาไทยและอังกฤษ
Film Screenings with Thai and English Intertitles

บัตรราคา 120 บาท ยกเว้น The Grey Automobile ราคา 200 บาท
Ticket is 120 baht except The Grey Automobile is 200 baht

Monday, May 21, 2018

And yet more of the lost Louise Brooks film, The American Venus

The 1926 Frank Tuttle-directed film, The American Venus, is considered lost. The film was the second in which Louise Brooks had a role, though the first for which she received a screen credit. The budding actress received a good deal of attention for her supporting role as a beauty contestant, Miss Bayport. That supporting role effectively launched Brooks' career. More about The American Venus can be found HERE.



Back in the late 1990s, a few minutes of footage from The American Venus was found in Australia. The surviving material includes fragments, variously in black and white, tinted and in Technicolor, from two coming attraction trailers. These surviving trailers, each about 180 feet in length, are housed at the Library of Congress and at the Pacific Film Archive. The two trailers were screened at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2002, and can be found on the DVD box set, More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894 – 1931. This material can also be found on YouTube HERE.

And just recently, the British Film Institute announced it had found a three second technicolor fragment which featuring Brooks. More about that remarkable discovery can be found HERE, which the clip itself can be found HERE.



Well, it turns out, that's not all there is of Louise Brooks and The American Venus. A couple of brief scenes not included in any of the above material may also be found in the trailer embedded below, which can also be found on YouTube (where it has been, hiding in plain sight, since 2007).

The brief bit of contestant Miss Bay Port flirting with Ford Sterling is especially fresh and wholly unknown to me. (Though I am not certain, this particular scene was likely shot in Atlantic City, around the time of the 1925 Miss American beauty contest.) There is also a bit of footage of Esther Ralston, Lawrence Gray, and Fay Lanphier (the actual 1925 Miss America), as well as an unknown actress at the very end. The tvdays trailer is part of a compilation of trailers from lost films.


I am curious, can anyone identify the unknown actress at the very end of the trailer? Here is a technicolor image of that actress.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New paper doll book features Louise Brooks and other silent screen stars

A new paper doll book features Louise Brooks. Silent Screen Stars Paper Dolls by David Wolfe was released about one month ago by Paper Studio Press. The 10 page book also features paper dolls of Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, and Greta Garbo.


The publisher's description reads, "The lights dim, the piano plays and the film projector clicks as the first title card appears on the screen. It's the silent film era--the three-decade period at the beginning of the 20th century that gave birth to the film industry, Hollywood and movie stars. The 5th in "David Wolfe's History of Hollywood Fashions" series celebrates six of our earliest stars--Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Greta Garbo--and costumes from their silent films. This super-sized volume provides 6 paper dolls on a cardstock centerfold and 10 pages of costumes for the silent screen stars, plus authoritative commentary by David Wolfe, the popular artist and Hollywood fashion historian."

More about David Wolfe and his work can be found on https://paperdollywood.com/

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks, screens May 18th in England

On May 18, the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival in Scarborough, England will screen the now classic 1928 Louise Brooks' film, Beggars of Life. More information about this event can be found HERE.

The Festival describes the film thus: "In this rarely-seen Hollywood classic, the great Louise Brooks stars as a train-hopping hobo who disguises herself as a boy and goes on the run. With dramatic American landscapes, a lyrical love story, and a daring, desperate final scene atop a speeding train, this is classic silent film entertainment."


Want to learn more about the film? Last Spring saw the release of my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and this past Summer saw the release of a new DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber. If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today? The book is also available on amazon.com in the UK at this link.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dates announced for Pandora's Box showings in London and elsewhere (starring Louise Brooks)




Earlier, the British Film Institute (BFI) announced it is giving Pandora’s Box (1929) a theatrical re-release starting in June. Today, a number of dates and venues were announced.

1 June - 14 June
BFI Southbank
1 June
Filmhouse Edinburgh
QFT Belfast
7 June
Stoke Film Theatre
8 June
IFI Dublin
15 June
Glasgow Film Theatre
16 June
Mareel Shetlands Arts
23 June
Hippodrome Bo’ness
24 June
Palace Cinema Broadstairs


1 July
Triskel Arts Cork
8 July
Rich Mix, London
15 July
Cine Lumiere
17 July
Artrix Bromsgrove

Pandora’s Box, which was directed by G.W. Pabst, is now considered a classic, a masterpiece of the silent era and a landmark work in the history of world cinema. Its considerable reputation is due largely to the riveting, red hot performance given by its star, Louise Brooks, in the role of Lulu.

Pandora’s Box is also a problematic film. It was censored when released, and cut in many of the countries where it was first shown; the surviving prints which have come down to us today are worse for wear. The version of Pandora’s Box presented is a 2K DCP of the 2007 Munich Film Museum restoration. According to reports, the DCP comes with a score by Peer Raben, a composer who has worked with director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

BFI Southbank screenings on Monday 4 June 18:00 NFT1, Friday 8 June 17:50 NFT2 and Thursday 14 June 17:50 NFT1 will have live piano accompaniment.  Ticket information on these screenings can be found HERE.

Friday 01 June 2018 14:30
NFT1
Friday 01 June 2018 17:40
NFT1
Friday 01 June 2018 20:25
NFT1
Saturday 02 June 2018 15:15
NFT2
Saturday 02 June 2018 17:40
NFT1
Saturday 02 June 2018 20:30
NFT1
Sunday 03 June 2018 15:00
NFT1
Sunday 03 June 2018 17:40
NFT1
Sunday 03 June 2018 20:25
NFT1
Monday 04 June 2018 18:00
NFT1

Monday 04 June 2018 20:15
NFT3
Tuesday 05 June 2018 14:30
NFT2
Tuesday 05 June 2018 17:40
NFT1
Tuesday 05 June 2018 20:30
NFT1
Wednesday 06 June 2018 14:30
Studio
Wednesday 06 June 2018 18:10
NFT1
Wednesday 06 June 2018 20:20
NFT2
Thursday 07 June 2018 14:30
NFT2
Thursday 07 June 2018 17:45
NFT2
Thursday 07 June 2018 20:30
NFT2
Friday 08 June 2018 17:50
NFT2

Friday 08 June 2018 20:30
NFT1
Saturday 09 June 2018 14:30
NFT2
Saturday 09 June 2018 17:20
NFT2
Saturday 09 June 2018 20:10
NFT2
Sunday 10 June 2018 14:50
NFT2
Sunday 10 June 2018 16:50
NFT1
Sunday 10 June 2018 19:40
NFT1
Monday 11 June 2018 18:10
NFT2
Monday 11 June 2018 20:30
NFT1
Tuesday 12 June 2018 18:00
NFT2
Tuesday 12 June 2018 20:25
NFT1
Wednesday 13 June 2018 17:40
NFT1
Wednesday 13 June 2018 20:25
NFT3
Thursday 14 June 2018 17:50
NFT1

Thursday 14 June 2018 20:15
NFT2

From the BFI website: "This sensational silent film follows the rise and fall of showgirl Lulu (Brooks), who goes from a decadent Weimar-era Berlin to a lurid London. When we first meet Lulu she’s the mistress of a middle-aged businessman, who tries to break off their affair in order to marry a respectable socialite, only to be caught red-handed by his bride-to-be. Lulu’s wild nature leads her into affairs with male and female suitors, leaving chaos and heartbreak in her wake. Few actors have such an electrifying screen presence as the 22-year-old Louise Brooks, whose powerful yet naturalistic performance in Pandora’s Box went underappreciated for decades – something we aim to rectify here with this gorgeous new restoration." -- Anna Bogutskaya, Events Programmer


Above is the newly prepared BFI trailer for the film. If you want to learn more about Pandora's Box, be sure and check out the recently released book by Pamela Hutchinson. Pictured below, it is highly recommended by the Louise Brooks Society.


Pamela Hutchinson's Pandora's Box (BFI Film Classics) is available on amazon (UK and USA).  It is, no doubt, also available at better bookstores including the bookshop at BFI Southbank.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Story of Louise Brooks' forger Lee Israel comes to the big screen

As Louise Brooks fans everywhere await the Fall release date of The Chaperone (the PBS Masterpiece film based on an incident in Brooks' life)....

Fox Searchlight has announced that Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the story of literary forger Lee Israel, will hit screens later this year. The film's release is scheduled for October. Melissa McCarthy stars in this forthcoming adaptation of Israel's 2008 memoir, also titled Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Louise Brooks plays a significant part in Israel's story. Nearly three chapters are given over to Brooks in Israel's slim 2008 book, in which she admits to forging at least a handful of letters from the silent film star. (Four of the Brooks forgeries are depicted in the book.) Brooks' name also appears on the book's cover, XXX'ed out, as do the names of Israel's other subjects, Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, and Lillian Hellman.

From the trailer embedded below, I don't know that Brooks figures in this new film. A few days ago, I messaged the screenwriters asking if Brooks is mentioned, but have yet to hear back.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer and friend to cats Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), who made her living in the 1970’s and 80’s profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder, and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her talents to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (played by Richard E. Grant).



Earlier in her career, Israel had published a popular biography of the actress Tallulah Bankhead, but as a writer, she fell on hard times. She turned to forging letters from famous personalities, including actors, entertainers and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O'Neil, Fannie Brice and Humphrey Bogart. According to Israel, two of her fakes even made it into The Letters of Noël Coward, published in 2007.

In its 2015 obituary, The New York Times noted, "In the early 1990s, with her career at a standstill, she became a literary forger, composing and selling hundreds of letters that she said had been written by Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, Lillian Hellman and others. That work, which ended with Ms. Israel’s guilty plea in federal court in 1993, was the subject of her fourth and last book, the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, published by Simon & Schuster in 2008." (Read the New York Times review of the book, which mentions Brooks, HERE. Also, check out the Los Angeles Times review HERE. And the NPR story can be read or listened to HERE.)

After her memoir was published in 2008 and all became known, Israel turned to selling her forged letters (as such) on eBay. As I noted on this blog at the time: "The eBay description reads, 'Lee Israel, author of the recently published Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger, which The New York Times called 'pretty damned fabulous,' is offering several letters for sale – the hilarious forgeries that experts from coast to coast could not distinguish from the extraordinary letters written by the silent film star. These are the letters Lee Israel had not yet sold when the FBI came knocking at her door. $75 each, suitable for framing to bamboozle your literary friends. Letters of inauthenticity provided."

I didn't buy any of Israel's forgeries, but I did email her. We exchanged a couple of brief messages, but all-in-all, she was reticent to talk about what she had done. In an interview with Vice magazine, however, she said this:
VICE: Well, it could’ve been that they didn’t fuss because you went to such great lengths to make the content of the letters believable and entertaining.
LEE ISRAEL: Yes. For instance, my Louise Brooks letters were based on her actual letters. In the beginning, I spent weeks reading these fabulous letters by her in the library. I got into her soul and her sensibilities and gained lots of knowledge about her life. So when I sat down to do the forgeries, I was just taking baby steps. In the beginning those letters were mostly Louise’s words with a bunch of stuff just changed around. But when they started to sell like hotcakes, I got surer of myself and moved farther and farther away from the model. The Noël Coward and Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber stuff was not even based on real letters. I was using things written in other forms and incorporating them into my work.

I am looking forward to the film, which looks very promising. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Our 3000th blog post - and announcing a new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star

This post marks the 3000th entry on the Louise Brooks Society blog. The LBS blog began back in the summer of 2002, and has been going strong ever since. My sincere thanks go to its occasional contributors, as well as its many readers and subscribers. Admittedly, the LBS is a little bit proud of this milestone, a small achievement which shows its ongoing 16 year commitment to spreading the word. Louise Brooks Lulu forever.

It is fitting then that an announcement be made of the publication of a forthcoming book by this blogs' primary author, Thomas Gladysz. Due out in the next two months is Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star (PandorasBox Press). This 300 page book is a selection of the best articles, essays and blog posts about Louise Brooks by Thomas Gladysz, the Director of the LBS. I would guess that blog posts make up less than half of the book, with the bulk of material coming from the author's contributions to the Huffington Post, Salon, PopMatters, the old examiner.com, and other new sites and newspapers scattered across the web and the world. Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star will also contain a handful of interviews by the author all related to Brooks.

Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star is going through its final edits, but as of now it stands at 110,000 words with some four or five dozen images, some rare and little seen. At one point, the book ran 140,000 words, but editing has reduced it to its current size. (Sometimes, it is difficult to let go of an article which once meant a lot.) More about the book will be posted in the coming months, including information on availability and related events. Stay tuned. Below is a mock up of the front cover.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Louise Brooks and Pandora's Box star in England in June

The British Film Institute (BFI) is giving Pandora’s Box (1929) a theatrical re-release in June. The version that will be shown is a 2K DCP of the 1997 Munich Film Museum restoration.

Pandora’s Box, which was directed by G.W. Pabst and stars Louise Brooks, will open at BFI Southbank and “selected cinemas UK-wide” on June 1. Additional dates and venues are to be announced. According to reports, the DCP comes with a score by Peer Raben, who has worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder.


Pandora’s Box is considered a classic, a masterpiece of the silent era and a landmark work in the history of world cinema. Its reputation is due largely to the riveting, red hot performance given by its star, Louise Brooks, in the role of Lulu.

Few can match Brooks’ intensity and erotic allure. Pauline Kael called her Lulu “The archetype of the voracious destructive women.” Brooks is that, and more. In fact, she’s stunning—and those who see the film for the first time often say they can’t take their eyes off the actress.

In his acclaimed 1989 biography of Brooks, Barry Paris wrote: “A case can be made that Pandora’s Box was the last of the silent films—not literally, but aesthetically. On the threshold of its premature death, the medium in Pandora achieved near perfection in form and content.”

It’s that “near perfection”—dark and riveting, that draws audiences time and again. Here is the newly prepared BFI trailer for the film.


Pandora’s Box is also, as the trailer states (quoting yours truly in the Huffington Post), "one of the great masterpieces of the silent era."

Friday, May 4, 2018

Jazz Singer Hailey Tuck - The millennial's Louise Brooks

Hailey Tuck describes herself as a "Jazz singer from Austin, Texas, based in Paris & London in the 1920's."

Marie Claire describes her as “The millennial's Louise Brooks.” In fact, the alt-jazz singer takes inspiration from the similarly bobbed Brooks and her 1982 book, Lulu in Hollywood. Tuck says as much in the video embedded below.


Tuck's new album. Junk, is out today on the Sony Music label. (Autographed copies are available.) To find out more about this oh-so charming artist, visit her website or Facebook page, each of which are loaded with songs and images and videos and more.

On her Sony debut, Hailey puts her own spin on songs by artists as diverse as Leonard Cohen, The Kinks, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney, as well as cabaret classics and Leonard Bernstein. (I especially love "Tell Her No," an old fave by the The Zombies.) Junk is produced by the multi Grammy Award winning Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Melody Gardot) and was recorded last year at Sunset Sound in L.A. with a band of veteran jazz musicians. Junk is playful and provocative and witty and world-weary and was "tailor-made for good times as it is for tears." (I sure wish Tuck would get around to recording "Louise".... because these days every little breeze seems to whisper Hailey's name. It would be a perfect fit.) Give a listen to Hailey Tuck's new album below.


Back in 2015, Tuck contributed a lovely, long piece to the Louise Brooks Society blog titled "Jazz singer Hailey Tuck - her story of discovering Louise Brooks." It is well worth checking out. She's got It.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Louise Brooks and Denis Marion: a correspondence

Just recently, I acquired a French-language book, Denis Marion; pleins feux sur un homme de l'ombre (LE CRI). It is about the French-speaking Belgian writer, lawyer, journalist, chess player, literary critic, film critic, playwright, and university professor Denis Marion. I did so because the book contains a 17-page chapter about Marion's long correspondence with Louise Brooks. And though I don't read French, I was able to pick through the chapter (by Muriel Andrin and Caroline Pirotte) and gleam some fascinating material. Happily, for me, bits of some of their letters are presented in their original English.

Marion is only mention in passing in the Barry Paris biography, but from what I was able to find out, Marion (whose real name is Marcel Defosse) was born in 1906, the same year as Brooks. He began a career as a lawyer while indulging in his passion for chess (he participated in six championships in Belgium). In 1928, he published a laudatory article on a novel by André Malraux, which earned him the friendship of the famed author. In the early 1930s, he was one of the founders of the Screen Club (the precursor of the Belgian Royal Cinematheque ), and was involved in the making of various documentary films. In 1945, he left his law firm to become the correspondent in Paris of the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir. He signed his articles under the pseudonym Denis Marion. As such, he wrote books on literature (on Daniel Defoe, Edgar Allen Poe), and the cinema (including titles on Erich von Stroheim, and Igmar Bergman), a novel published by Gallimard, two plays, a couple of screenplays (both films were directed by Albert Valentin), and gave classes at the Université Libre de Bruxelles on the history of cinema.

Denis Marion
Marion knew many cultural personalities in France, as well as in the post-WWII film world. I don't think Marion and Brooks ever met. But, they did strike up a seven-year correspondence with Brooks that began in 1962 and lasted until 1969.

Chapter VII of Denis Marion; pleins feux sur un homme de l'ombre, titled "Louise Brooks/Denis Marion, fragments d'une correspondence (1962-1968)" offers a glimpse of what I gather to have been a vigorous meeting of minds. At one point in the exchange of letters, there was much discussion regarding Erich von Stroheim. Marion was writing a book on the director, and was pleased to be in contact with someone who had met him.

According to a Brooks’ letter from 1964, the actress met von Stroheim at G.W. Pabst’s Hollywood apartment in 1935. “I shall never forget him sitting tense, separate, flashing me a quick, ugly look and saying not a word as we were introduced. He made not even a gesture of rising. In that look, we knew each other — why pretend?” Brooks goes on to discuss silent era actors who made up a past.

In 1966, the French film journal Etudes Cinematographiques published its "von Stroheim" issue, edited by Denis Marion (and dedicated to Brooks). The actress contributed one page of notes about the director excerpted from her 1964 contribution to the Montreal journal Objectif. Brooks' name also appears on the cover alongside Rene Clair, Lillian Gish, Jean Renoir and others.




Here are some highlights which I gathered from "Louise Brooks/Denis Marion, fragments d'une correspondence (1962-1968)," which only quotes snippets from their correspondence. All together, this is fascinating material, and well worth publishing in its entirety.

August 27, 1962
Begins corresponding with French writer Denis Marion.

August 28, 1962
Writes to Marion, "Yesterday when I wrote to you I was so busy -- reading your article, feeding the cat, checking my notebook, making a cake, writing to Lotte [Eisner], clipping the ivy and reading a letter from William Inge." 

November 20, 1962
Marion writes to Brooks offering to translate her book Women in Film into French and to help find a publisher in France.

November 25, 1962
Writes a letter to Marion in which Brooks states her reluctant admiration for Mae Murray.

December 8, 1962
Writes a letter to Marion offering to help research Erich von Stroheim. Brooks also writes that she will acquire a copy of Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, which she plans to read again.

August 26, 1963
Writes a letter to Denis Marion, who notes she often spent nights in Chez Florence in Montmartre while in Paris.

September 18, 1963
Writes a letter to Marion in which Brooks says "Perhaps I never would have had courage to write had you not told me to read novels."

October 3, 1963
Writes a letter to Marion asking which Balzac novels he suggests she read. "I reread Manon Lescaut. It is just as silly to me now as 35 years ago.... Another book I read again was [Flaubert's] Madame Bovary."

March 27, 1967
Writes a letter to Marion stating she gave up sex in 1958. "But right up to my retirement from sex in 1958, I always had some pretty lesbians on a string -- flattering and fun. So if I am known as a lesbian it is my own doing, and I don't mind, I like it."

May 10, 1967
Writes a letter to Marion which states she has "fallen in love with Stroheim -- as a person now."

November 13, 1967
Writes a letter to Marion, "Tomorrow I shall be 61, knowing no more about myself or why I do anything then I did at 6. Except this -- all my life I have been a learner. That is why I write. As Dylan Thomas put it... 'My poetry is the record of my struggles from darkness to some measure of light'."

July 10, 1969
Correspondence with the French writer Denis Marion ends.
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